Experiences Following the Deaths of Disabled Foster Children: “We Don't Feel Like ‘Foster’ Parents” Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Foster parents in the child welfare system occupy a unique position in our culture. While expected to parent and provide safe, loving, and normative family experiences to a child removed from her/his family of origin, they are, simultaneously, expected to remember that they are not the child's biological parent. Increasingly, foster parents are being asked to care for children with severe disabilities that sometimes precipitate an early death. How do foster parents experience the death of a foster child with disabilities in their care? Semi-structured interviews with bereaved foster parents revealed foster parents' self-identification as “parents” who shared “parent/child” relationships with foster children whom they considered to be part of their families. The foster parents' experience of the death of the foster child with a disability was reported comparable to the death of a birth child, however, their identification as legitimate grievers was often disenfranchised by others.

publication date

  • December 1, 2004